Ten very well behaved young children, ages 3 to12, had just spent the day aboard ORION on a cruise to Puerto Balandra. They had an afternoon of playing, splashing and swimming from ORION at anchor and the sandy beach of the north shore.
Back at our slip at Marina Palmira, I was down on the dock tying lines and re-connecting to shore power. One of the boys stood in front of me, looked up and raised his arms. I looked down, picked him up and gently shook him back and forth in a big bear hug, and added a long low growl for the full effect. When I set him down a line had formed and every kid came for their own personal bear hug. Esther, the 3 yr old, was last. My face was wet and salty with big bear tears as those kids waved their good-byes and skipped up the ramp.
There are many shelter homes in La Paz that seem to be a combination of foster care for children and also shelters for battered women. There are some government monies available to support these shelters and yet never quite enough. The shelters rely on the generosity of others to put food on the table, provide clothing, help with utilities and other needs.
Cathy and I have made ORION available for fund raising cruises for local organizations that support the needs and education for at-risk children. Our friends, Tom & Jeanne of s/v Eagle & Ron & Cricket of s/vMystic Island, have adopted a shelter run by Mamma Bonita. They raise funds to support the shelter and have made it a priority to get the kids out for fun activities on the weekends. So, we offered ORION for a day trip near the end of the season, when the waters are beginning to warm up.
10:00hrs. Tom, Jeanne, Ron, & Cricket arrived with Mamma Bonita and the kids in tow. With lifejackets snug on their bodies, ORION quickly got underway. The kids settled into the nets, that make up the majority of the bow space on a catamaran. It did not take long for the first few to make their way up to the helm. The binoculars were the big hit and they took turns viewing the world from the right end, the wrong end, upside down and sideways. Next, everyone had a turn at the helm, followed by zooming the electronic chart in and out on the GPS screen.
Mamma Bonita was up on the nets with some of the kids. She caught my eye, smiled and gave me a big thumbs up!
Within an hour ORION was anchored at Puerto Ballandra. The tender was launched. Kayaks, standup paddle boards, boogie boards and blow up water toys were deployed, and soon, kids and adults were heading for the beach.
The water temperature was perfect for a day of being in the water. Paddling, swimming, splashing, giggling and joyful screams were the order of the day. The kids only came out of the water and up the beach for sandwiches and juice at lunch time.
14:00hrs. Believe it or not! The kids got tired and started to return to ORION just at the time I was ready to signal it was time to come back aboard. They had simply just worn themselves out.
It was a quiet trip back to Marina Palmira.
I made a commitment to Tom & Jeanie to do the same trip again next year.
I also promised myself to invest more of my time learning Spanish as I now understand that the best reason to learn Spanish is to be able to have a conversation with those kids.